J-1 Student Academic Training

What is Academic Training?

Academic training is work, training, or experience related to a student’s field of study.

Appropriate activities vary over disciplines. Academic training includes both paid and unpaid work experiences. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work full- or part-time. J-1 students in non-degree programs are also eligible for Academic Training.

Undergraduates and Master’s students may participate in 18 months of Academic Training. After completion a doctoral, the overall limit is 36 months. Non-degree students may participate in Academic Training up to the length of their studies, but no to exceed 12 months.

The total amount of time you use as Academic Training is counted toward your limit. You do not receive additional Academic Training time when you move to another degree level. If you are planning on continuing your education in your J-1 status, keep this in mind as you choose how much of your Academic Training to use now.

Academic Training is allowed full time or part time. Undergraduates are commonly limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18- or 36-month limit the same as full-time employment.

To qualify for Academic Training, you must first obtain a recommendation in writing from your academic advisor and approval from your J-1 Responsible Officer.

If your school is your sponsor, then your J-1 Responsible Officer is an international student adviser from the International Office.

If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, an international student adviser will help you find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.

How to Apply

  1. Your primary purpose in the United States is study rather than Academic Training.
  2. You must be in good academic standing.
  3. The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
  4. Throughout your Academic Training you must maintain permission to stay in the United States in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
  5. You must maintain health insurance cover for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your Academic Training.
  1. Obtain a letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes your job title, a brief description of the goals and objectives of your training program (your employment), the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, and the name and address of your training supervisor. Make sure that your employer’s letter includes all of these details.
  2. Give a copy of your employer’s letter to your academic adviser or dean for use in writing your Academic Training recommendation. Please give your academic
    advisor or dean the attached fill-in recommendation form.
  3. When your academic adviser’s recommendation is ready, bring it to the International Office with a copy of the employer’s letter attached.
  4. Your International Student Advisor will evaluate the Academic Training and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If approved, you will receive a written letter of approval.

To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. If you have not yet received a Social Security number, follow these steps to obtain one. Your Social Security card should be marked “Valid for work only with INS authorization.”

When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport, I-94 card, Form DS20-19, and your J-1 Responsible Officer’s written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps Form I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. Form I-9 must be updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for Academic Training.

Social Security taxes. In general, as a J-1 student you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes for your first five years in the United States, as long as you continue to declare non-resident status for tax purposes (see Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.”

Federal, state and local taxes. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 you must file a federal income tax return and a “Required Statement” covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming.

Application Deadline for Academic Training After Completion of Your Program of Study

You must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present your academic advisor/dean’s recommendation and a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer within 30 days of the end of your program but before the expiration date of your DS2019, whichever comes first, or you will lose eligibility for Academic Training after completion. If your DS2019 will expire before your requested Academic Training end date, you must apply for extension of DS2019 with your Academic Training request.

As a J-1 student you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Do not start any employment without advance written approval from the International Office.